“Marine Environment – Shipping – Sciences”
A new 3 year-long HELMEPA Awareness Campaign across Greece
On Wednesday, 29 October 2014 (yesterday), the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association-HELMEPA unveiled its revamped “Marine Environment – Shipping – Sciences” Exhibition in the Piraeus Port Authority’s Events Hall. The Minister of Shipping and the Aegean, Mr M. Varvitsiotis, Chairman and Managing Director of the Piraeus Port Authority S.A., Yiorgos Anomeritis, Member of Parliament, Mr Anastasios Neratzis, the Vice Mayor for Culture of the Municipality of Piraeus, Ms Irini Daifa, President of the Panhellenic Union of Merchant Marine Masters, George Vlachos, President of the Hellenic Maritime Museum, Ms Anastasia Paloumbi-Anagnostopoulou, President of the Museum of the City of Athens, Antonis Vogiatzis, President of the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club, John Maragoudakis, stakeholder representatives, Hellenic Coast Guard senior officials, HELMEPA members, teachers, Piraeus Port Authority Executives, members of the shipping Media and 30 students of the “HELMEPA Junior” Program from the 14th Primary School of Nikaia, accompanied by their volunteer teacher, Ms Sofia Papadopoulou, as well as many other notable invitees, all honored the event with their presence.
During the customary welcoming addresses marking the occasion, interesting points were raised by the speakers.
Chairman of HELMEPA’s Board of Directors, Dr John Coustas, noted the significance of having the new Campaign commence in Piraeus, the heart of the Greek shipping community, before traveling to a further 13 cities around Greece until 2017. He referred to the success of the 2011-2014 Campaign, which just recently reached its completion, speaking of how it conveyed the important message for the protection of our seas and beaches in the best possible way to thousands of children across the country. He added that since its inception in 1982, HELMEPA has been aiming at the refresher training of seafarers, but that the Association has since evolved to also have the enhancement of an environmental consciousness and awareness-raising activities included in its key objectives. “The best guarantee we have that our seas will be protected in the future is the children who will take away with them this vital message from the Campaign”, Dr Coustas remarked as he thanked Lloyd’s Register Foundation* for its financial support. In closing, he congratulated HELMEPA staff for “pouring its heart and soul” into the realization of the Campaign.
During his address, Lloyd’s Register Area Marine Manager for Greece, East Mediterranean and Adriatic, Mr Theodosis Stamatellos, noted that Greece has every basis on which to be called a maritime nation, however that the people are yet to comprehend the power and the role of the sea. “We know very little about all that the sea, and even shipping itself, has to offer us”, he said, “and it is for this reason that we support HELMEPA’s significant efforts”, he continued. Mr Stamatellos went on to speak of how HELMEPA plays its role, ensuring that children fully come to grasp not only the vitality of the seas and oceans but also their direct ties to them. In concluding, he expressed the warm congratulations to HELMEPA on behalf of the Foundation and assured them of the Foundation’s continued support of the implementation of the Campaign.
The Minister, Miltiades Varvitsiotis, led the audience through an historical retrospective of the founding of HELMEPA, making reference to the message for the protection of the seas of the Association’s late visionary, George P. Livanos, which, as he mentioned, “has been achieved to a great extent given that ships are responsible for only 10% of marine pollution, while the remaining 90% is directly due to activities on land”. He also commented on the significant problem of litter persisting on Greek beaches and along Greek coastlines, noting that one fifth of the Mediterranean sea bed is lined with plastics. “This Campaign is a first-rate opportunity”, the Minister continued, “to help the younger generations understand that should we continue to pollute our environment at this same rate, our future will indeed be rather bleak”. Finally, Mr Varvitsiotis stated that he remains at the disposal of HELMEPA to contribute to its efforts and he suggested that Hellenic Coast Guard staff, well-known Olympic champions, become preachers of HELMEPA’s environmental message and undertake a committed campaign to reduce the number of drownings in seas, which this year tragically stood at 500.
Chairman and Managing Director of the Port Authority of Piraeus, Yiorgos Anomeritis, spoke of the genesis of the planet and of man, who in order to survive must protect the world and the environment to which HELMEPA offers its crucial work. “The Association aims further than us all, towards a visionary future”, he stated, “because this is the primary goal we are all summoned here today to serve upon HELMEPA’s initiative”. Mentioning the fact that the Port of Piraeus is now an officially recognized ECOPORT, he highlighted the fact that human activity must depend on an environment which we neither exploit nor plunder. “It is important that we all stick by HELMEPA”, he said, “and I will do whatever I can to ensure that HELMEPA’s message reaches the last city, the last village, neigh, the last child in Greece”. Finally, he referred to the Declaration of Patmos, co-signed by the Ministers of Shipping across the European Union and he closed his address by saying that besides adhering to a green policy, we must endeavor to adopt a “blue” policy for the protection of the seas.
Primary Education teacher, Ms S. Papadopoulou, spoke of how she wished to awaken her students’ volunteerism through an environmental consciousness given that “we live in a country for which the marine environment has a special significance”. During the seven years throughout which she has been actively participating in the “HELMEPA Junior” Program, she has been trying to help her students appreciate that the future of human life depends on the sea. She also continues in her efforts to pass on to her students the message of volunteering, the importance of assuming responsibility and the need for the adoption of a new life’s stance and outlook towards the environment. In addition, she mentioned the various activities of HELMEPA that give children the opportunity to participate in experiments and games, to take part in public awareness crusades and be involved in forming proposals for solutions to environmental problems. In closing her address, Ms Papadopoulou expressed the hope that at least some of those children participating in today’s “HELMEPA Junior” Program will become the maritime professionals of tomorrow, and be armed with a view towards the protection of our seas.
The Exhibition was inaugurated by the children, joined by Messrs Coustas, Stamatellos, Varvitsiotis and Anomeritis. All had only but excellent comments to offer regarding both the fresh new look of the Exhibit and the novel information it boasts for Oceans, the associated threats to it, shipping and sciences, all of which serve to bolster and enhance it.
The Exhibition, which will be hosted by the Piraeus Port Authority, 10 Akti Miaouli, until Wednesday, 5 November, will remain open to the public every day between 1pm and 5pm. HELMEPA’s scientific staff will be on hand to offer information to all those interested.
*Note to the Editors: A charitable foundation, helping to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research. www.lrfoundation.org.uk